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COVID-19 and Emergency Preparedness

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During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ombudsman programs have been flexible and resilient while adjusting to the “new normal” of wearing a mask, washing hands frequently, working from home, and much more. In addition to those changes, many Ombudsman programs are facing the additional challenges of preparing for hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, and flooding. Current information about preparedness is available at FEMA.gov, including their COVID-19 Pandemic Operational Guidance for the 2020 Hurricane Season. Take the time now to review personal and work emergency preparedness plans and considerations for emergency kits.

Update your emergency plans. Review the following:

  • Have phone numbers for family or work contacts changed? Update contacts and print the list. Print a current long-term care facilities list.
  • Have you relocated to a new home or office building? Review and update sheltering in-place and evacuation guidance. 
  • Is there a family member or co-worker with access and functional needs that will need support during an emergency evacuation? Talk with them about needed supports and how you can assist. 
  • There may be fewer evacuation shelters because of COVID. Plan for sheltering at home if feasible or possibly with family or friends. Many hotels will be under contract to provide sheltering options for evacuees that are presumed, or tested positive, for COVID-19. 

Replace or replenish supplies in your home, vehicle, and work emergency kits. Consider the following: 

  • Add face coverings. Disposable masks are a good option. 
  • Antibacterial handwashing solutions and antibacterial wipes. 
  • Disposal gloves. 
  • Replenish toiletries, food, water, drinks, and critical medications. 

Recovery and Reentry Resources 

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In anticipation of resuming in-person visits, the National Ombudsman Resource Center (NORC) convened a workgroup to discuss issues regarding Ombudsman program services during the pandemic and to provide input on COVID-19 Recovery and Reentry Resources

The resources are divided into two primary groups. One set of resources provide program management considerations and templates for State Ombudsmen to assist with developing program policies and procedures and practices during the pandemic. The other resources are intended to support representatives in performing duties during COVID-19 such as conducting visits safely, responding to and documenting complaints, and communicating with residents while wearing a face covering. The resources are available as PDFs and Word documents so programs can add state specific information. This information is current as of August 2020 and will be updated as we learn more about COVID-19 and practices may need to adapt accordingly. These resources and more are available on our COVID-19 page

Materials Available for Purchase

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Ombudsman imprinted face masks are available for purchase along with hand sanitizer, sanitizer wipes, and resources specifically for Ombudsman programs. These new items may be purchased with a drawstring bag or separately. For more information about these supplies and costs visit the Consumer Voice store and contact us for bulk pricing options at ombudcenter@theconsumervoice.org.

For additional information about emergency preparedness visit this issue page (including Emergency Preparedness and Response: Model Policies and Procedures for State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs by the Administration for Community Living).

Read archived issues of NORC Notes. If you have a question, are not able to find a resource, or want to share training materials or program practices, please email ombudcenter@theconsumervoice.org.

 

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